Geoffrey, could you come in here a minute?
- Yes, sir? What is it?
Geoffrey, I’m wondering if we shouldn’t try to create some sort of Zombie content to help boost our visibility.
- *sigh* Zombies, sir?
Don’t take that tone with me, Geoffrey. I know what I’m talking about. Zombies are all over the headlines. This is one bandwagon we should hop on while it’s still fresh!
- You think Zombies are… fresh?
Yes, yes, I see what you did there. Very funny. But the incidence of the word Zombie in the news is at an all-time high, and searches are spiking higher than ever before! This is a hot trend! The Zombie Apocalypse is a big fucking deal!
- Forgive the puns, but it’s a stale old meme that just won’t die.
You’re serious, aren’t you?
- Dead serious.
Oh, Jesus Christ.
- Him too.
All right then, tell me why you have a problem with the current Zombie craze.
- This isn’t even “the current Zombie Craze” so much as it is faux geek bait. Zombie Apocalypse has become the same meaningless, unsubstantial drivel that makes up bacon, corgis, and Big Bang Theory fandom.
Hold up one minute, Geoffrey. From Night of the Living Dead to The Evil Dead to Shaun of the Dead to Zombieland, Zombie media has a rich and storied history. Surviving the inevitable forthcoming zombie apocalypse is a meme and subculture unto itself! What we’re seeing now is simply the subculture’s day in the sun!
- You’re wrong. This isn’t a recent trend, and it wasn’t born out of a community collective. Let me refresh your memory. Do you remember 2003?
Sure, that’s the year I graduated from high school. That’s six years before you were born.
- Correct. Myspace was barely a thing. Facebook wasn’t yet even a glimmer in Zuckerburger’s faceholes. For the most part, peoples’ moms weren’t doing much online and the web was still mostly used by nerds and other weirdos. Hearing quotes from Mel Brooks movies was as common as it is today.
Stop right here, Geoffrey. Mel Brooks didn’t make any Zombie movies.
- No, but his son Max Brooks DID write the book The Zombie Survival Guide that year. That book was the first of its kind to pull from the collective of pop culture zombie lore and frame it in a “how to survive” context. The book wasn’t exactly a New York Times best-seller, but within the still-somewhat-insular communities attending comic book conventions, the sheer fact that the son of the guy who made Spaceballs, Blazing Saddles, History of the World Part I, and plenty of other films deemed sacred within the hallowed halls of true geekery, the fact that his son had written a book about surviving a zombie attack was definitely a huge point of interest among the nerdiest of the nerds, before such a thing was considered remotely cool.
Well, that is an eye-opener. But that was nine years ago, Geoffrey. Where exactly is this going?
- That year, the number of zombie-themed movies made per year more than doubled, from 12 to 27. Three years later, Brooks followed up The Zombie Survival Guide with a post-apocalyptic zombie war novel, World War Z. This time around, Brooks had a book that DID appear on the New York Times Best Seller list – for four weeks in a row! Many have credited World War Z as the main piece of media that brought zombie fiction to mainstream audiences. At least 47 zombie-themed movies were released that year. Zombie movies finally reached critical mass in 2009 with 72 different zombie movies being made, including the hit Zombieland. But the following year, the number of zombie movies made per year finally began to fall for the first time in over a decade, with only 62 films released. 2011 was an even starker year for zombie movies as only 19 were completed, the lowest number since 2002, the year before Brook’s Survival Guide came out.** In the years since the book’s release, the concept of surviving a zombie apocalypse has surely become memetic, inspiring countless ripoffs, wannabes, and also-rans.
So Geoffrey, if what you’re saying is true, then we’re actually seeing the end of a zombie craze. But then why should there suddenly be an upswing in zombie headlines?
- Because talking about a crazed drug fiend who eats another man’s face is pretty horrifying shit. But if a popular media outlet can call it a zombie attack rather than an act of cannibalism, then it sounds hip, trendy, and social media rockstars eat that shit up. Suddenly the story is viral because it has a geek culture tie-in. Before you know it, any act of cannibalism, any act of violence can be spun as part of the forthcoming zombie apocalypse, despite the fact that that ship has already sailed.
You really know how to suck the fun out this, don’t you Geoffrey?
- You wanted to know what geeks like. Real geeks tend to be detail-obsessed aspies with encyclopedic knowledge of things. So that’s what you’ve got. But don’t feel bad. The only people riding the current wave of zombie headlines aren’t the real geeks anyway. So you haven’t lost any geek cred by not jumping on the bandwagon.
But by recording and publishing our conversation, that’s exactly what I’ve done.
- Why would you do such a thing?
Why do you think I hired a cat to be my youth and social media consultant in the first place?
- I hate you.
Of course you do, Geoffrey. Of course you do.
* Portions of this conversation may have actually taken place with Shane Billings and not the imaginary cat Geoffrey.
** Zombie film release data courtesy of Wikipedia
Previous conversations with Geoffrey: